Friday, April 24, 2020


In the liturgical calendar of the Augustinian Order, today is the feast of the Conversion of Saint Augustine,  (354-430) baptized by Saint Ambrose in Milan during the night of April 24-25, 387. Besides being a towering intellectual and spiritual figure in his own right, Saint Augustine seems especially relevant to our contemporary society, since he lived (and embraced an ecclesial vocation) at a time when Christianity, while definitely on the rise, was still not the only option, when traditional paganism and other religious and philosophical stances were still viable alternatives to Christianity for many. At the same time, he ended up as a Bishop in a part of the Empire  (North Africa) where the Catholic Church had become both the established Church and powerfully so, a situation soon to collapse completely.

Both those realities characteristic of the transitional time in which Saint Augustine lived have a lot in common with our contemporary era in ways most other historical periods do not and hence provide ample opportunities for reflection.

However, today's feast focuses not on those issues but on his coming to faith snd full membership in the Church.  Fittingly, the proper 2nd Reading in the Augustinian Order's Office of Readings concludes with one of the most famous passages and perennially relevant from Saint Augustine's Confessions:

"Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Cre­ated things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace."

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